2013 Introduction blog

20 06 2013

Welcome to another year of study abroad in Grenoble France! This year’s group of students went from May 12th to June 10th, 2013.

Take a look around and read the experiences of Southern Illinois University students in the College of Business study abroad program. Every blog entry labelled “Student Voices” is written by a student. I am obsessed with grammar but I try not to edit their entries, so don’t blame me if there are grammatical errors!

Sometimes you may note some additional commentary by me, Dr. Suzanne Altobello. I will often write these as “ALTO NOTES” in bright blue at the bottom of a blog entry.  I have been conducting these faculty-led study abroad experiences since 2003, making the 2013 trip my ELEVENTH year taking students abroad.

Eventually, I will write a book about the most hilarious, most annoying, most amazing scenarios of my trips and students on them. For now, the blog will have to suffice.

Dr. A


The 2011 College of Business Study Abroad Trip….8 days til takeoff

7 05 2011

We leave in 8 days for our 2011 College of Business Study Abroad trip! This year, we will leave the Saturday after final exams (instead of the Tuesday after graduation). It will be the first time in 9 years that I will not be attending Southern Illinois University’s Spring Commencement excercises. I will miss congratulating our graduates.

Last night, I attended the College of Business Department of Marketing’s graduation banquet and 5 students from previous study abroad trips were there. We talked…for HOURS! The relationships that I form with these students is truly priceless and I’m excited to begin new relationships with the students that are going this year.

We have 18 undergraduates and 6 MBA students attending the program at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business this year. In this blog, you will hear the voices of all of the undergraduates. I’m sure I can convince the grad students to contribute too. I can be persuasive like that!

I’m excited to see our wonderful friends in Grenoble, to go to the restaurants (La Frise) and bars we always visit (bonjour, D’Enfer Pub!), to drink the wine (I prefer a lovely Côtes du Rhône)….but most of all, I am excited to share the beautiful city of Grenoble, the joy of international travel, and the transformative experience of living in another culture with my students.

Here’s to a wonderful trip! Please check back often. You can also follow me on Twitter (@snasco) for more current updates. (The students will be creating Twitter accounts as part of their Mobile Marketing/Social Media course when we get there, too!)

Student Voices: STEVEN

1 08 2010

I would have liked to talk about our trip to Nice, because that was the most fun I had over the trip, but J Buckets (Jonathan) already covered that.  Annecy was also very awesome, but L Train (Lindsay) beat me to that, so I have decided to just give a brief overview of my thoughts, opinions, and exploits of the general France nightlife

Upon arriving in good ol’ Grenoble, as I like to call it, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I didn’t really know what to think, how to act, where to be, or how to get there.  What I did know, is that this was an opportunity that I was not going to let pass me by with out fully experiencing it.  The first thing many of us did was picked up some of the bare necessities from the grocery store, ya know, beer, wine, maybe a bottle of booze, whatever floats your boat.  As I walked to the back of the grocery store I laid my eyes on a beautiful site, a case of beer, but not just any case of beer, Kanterbrau beer.  From the instant I saw it I knew it was love at first site, and we would have a beautiful 4 week relationship.  Okay, sorry, to get back on topic. 

After finishing off about 10 to 12 of those pretty little 8 oz green bottled Kanterbrau’s, I and whatever soldiers wanted to take the on the night, would make our way out on the town.  Through out the weeks many KB’s were drank and many bars were infiltrated by the SIU crew.  I enjoyed most of the bars, including the rugby bar, sun valley, but the one I visited most often I can’t seem to remember the name of it…but it’s a bar, what do you do in bars? Drink heavily, what does drinking heavily do the memory? Deteriorates it, so stop sweatin’ me.  Maybe one of my classmates remembers I’m sure Jonathan does, that may have been where he met his “Lady Friend.” 

Obviously one of aspect of “night life” is communicating with other bar patrons, or what you might call “sptting some game.”  This proved to be very, very difficult due to the language barrier.  It’s hard enough not sounding like a drunken idiot when talking to an attractive girl at pinch penny pub in our native English language, let alone attempting to talk to a pretty French girl in a bar you don’t know, and in a language you’ve never learned.  But do you think that stopped me from trying?  Nope, sure didn’t.  Every once in a while you could find some people who spoke good to decent English and you could make it work, but often, in my case, it would go something like this:  Bonjour, Parlez vous anglais? No. Au revior.  That being said every night I did go out, I enjoyed it.  Got to experience chartreuse, underwear in a gumball machine, the beverage known as desperato, and interesting outdoor bathroom/porter potty/drains things.

Now I would like to talk about my disappointing nightlife experience in the almighty Paris.  I went in thinking it was going to be awesome, and it was okay I guess, but not quite awesome.  One of the nights there me and a couple guys got all dressed up and went to the Eiffel Tower, had a great high class dinner, then attempted to hip up a night club.  I’m not much of a nightclub kind of guy to begin with, but I was in Paris so I was willing to give it a shot.  We first walked around for what seemed to be forever, hopping on and off of the subway.  Finally we found the place we were looking for and get in line, the line is moving rather quickly so I’m starting to get a little excited.  We get to the first large bouncer station and move on.  However, things didn’t go so smoothly at the second bouncer station, the guy takes a good look at us and opens up the rope, unfortunately it wasn’t the rope to get in the club, it was the rope to get out of line because they weren’t going to let us in.  Why you ask? Because we didn’t have enough girls in our group.  I understand that pretty girls are good for business, but nonetheless I took it as a personal slap in the face from Paris, like it was trying to say, “Steve you’re not good enough for this night club.”  That being said, I will never return to that nightclub again, especially when I am rich and famous, because I do hold grudges…take that Paris.  All kidding aside, I did really enjoy Paris, just wish I had more time to give Paris a chance to redeem itself, as 2 days just wasn’t enough.  I guess after living in Carbondale for 4 years, I have grown accustomed to the slow life, so I was a little excited to return to Grenoble for the last week.  So all in all the nightlife was pretty awesome.  Overall I had an amazing trip, I don’t think I could have asked for a better time with a better group of people.

Student Voices: JOHNNA

1 08 2010

When we arrived in Grenoble, France it seemed like we had so much time.   Immediately after arrival, we began exploring and venturing off to discover as much as possible.  Unfortunately, there never seemed to be enough time to see everything.  Although our schedule always seemed to be overflowing with places to visit and wonderful cultural experiences to try, there was still all the rest of France.

            I was eager to experience discover other parts of the country and to experience as much diversity and culture of France as possible.  Fortunately, we were granted one free weekend to travel wherever we wanted.  I was lucky enough to have a very hospitable friend, Anthony, who also attends SIUC as a student, but resides permanently in Antibes, France.  He hosted me for the weekend and I ended up having the best two days in France I could have ever hoped for.

            After a group trip to Annecy, I departed a little early on a train headed south for seven hours.  Although the trip seemed to go on forever, I was able to pass through numerous cities and the most beautiful countryside.  It ended up being a wonderful way to see more of the country.  I arrived around 10:00pm at the train station in Antibes and was overjoyed to find my friend waiting for me, I hadn’t been able to reach him by phone to tell him my arrival time. (Only one more time Facebook has made my life ohhh so much easier). 

            On my first night in Antibes, I met many of Anthony’s close friends who were incredibly kind to me and luckily were also very forgiving of my terrible french.  They were extremely hospitable and even fed me cake and introduced me to many other French delicacies.  That same night we drove to Cannes where I met more of his friends who made me feel welcome.

            The following morning, after taking two of the friends I’d met the previous night to the Nice airport where they were flying out of to Paris for a wedding, Anthony and his friend, Flo, took me on the most fabulous drive.  We spent the entire day driving along the coast and through other gorgeous cities all the way to Monaco.  It was stunning.  From the backseat of their convertible, I rotated in circles capturing everything with my camera. 

            We made a stop in the French Rivera on the way to our destination where we walked down what seemed like hundreds of stairs to a beautiful, isolated beach known as Eden Plage Mala.  We rested shortly at an outdoor restaurant surrounded by gorgeous cliffs and ocean, which made for a marvelous view everywhere you looked.  Continuing our trip, we arrived at our destination in extravagant Monaco where we wandered around sightseeing and eating ice cream.  I couldn’t believe I was so very, very lucky.

            After we got back that night, a group of their friends came over to Anthony’s and cooked a meal consisting of French specialties so that I could experience “true” French cuisine.  Unfortunately, their generosity was wasted on me, whose favorite foods are often listed on the children’s menu.  After making sure I tried almost everything from the duck liver to escargot, I finally appreciated the French’s consistent abundance of bread and cheese.

            After dinner, we continued our night in a city a short distance from Antibes where they showed me an incredible night out which didn’t end until the early hours of the morning.  I was only allowed a short nap before Anthony took me to the train station to head back to Grenoble.  The long ride back was a mixture of short naps and the torture of catching up on all the homework and projects I’d put off working on over the weekend.  Although I only managed a couple hours of sleep that night, it was beyond worth it for such an unforgettable experience.

Student Voices: NICOLE

1 08 2010






What shouldn’t hold you back!!!

When I first learned about the study abroad program I was ready to pack my bags right then and leave but as the days went by I began realizing how different I was going to have to live in France than what I lived in the United States. I wouldn’t be able to talk on my cell phone to all my friends and family, I was going to miss all my favorite T.V. shows…….(thank goodness for DVR), I would be away from my horses for 28 days, which is the longest time I have ever spent away from them, and how was I ever going to make it through the long nine hour flight :/, oh, one more thing, I was not going to like the food, but with the encouragement of my family and boyfriend I signed up anyways. There was no turning back I had to shift my focus from the bad to the good I was going to get from the trip, like the experience of a lifetime, being able to explore such a beautiful country, and gain knowledge that would place me in a select group of people.

                The day came were it was time to broad that long dreaded flight and face the challenges of living in a foreign country, and it was with my first step onto the plane that my life was forever changed!!!! To start off the flight….well it was a complete breeze, I watched movies and snacked most of the way there catching a few hours of sleep here and there, I would even go as far as saying that I would rather take a nine hour flight instead of a four hour flight that you don’t have the pleasure of watching movies! Once in France the real fun began with all the adventures we set out on between school, making new friends, drinking….a little more drinking……the worries I had before the trip soon disappeared!  I will tell you this from someone who is always on her phone, I was glad I didn’t have it over there because there was so much more going on that there wasn’t time to talk on the phone or talking on the phone would cause you to miss out! Plus I think it helped my addiction, now that I am back in the States I use my phone a lot less which helps the phone bill!!! As far as my T.V. shows, my horses and friends they were still there when I got back and nothing had changed, so there was nothing to worry about!!! You have way too much fun going out and exploring every minute of the day that you don’t even think about what is going on back home! One of the best parts about the trip is that when we all meet at the airport to begin our trip, we were all quiet and reserved but……when that last day came and it was time to say goodbye, you realized that all these strangers became became your family! As far as the food goes, well wasn’t the same but it was still YUMMY! I learned you just needed an open mind! Don’t get me wrong though I did have some problems with their food industry, like they have no 24 hour restaurants, so instead of Winston Bagels for your after the bar snack you were stuck with good ole Lays BBQ chips! Also finding a restaurant that spoke a little English so you could actually could order your food was a challenge but I feel we became pros by the time we headed home and now that I am back I find myself still talking with my hands and motions to explain what I want…haha. I recommend this trip to anyone!! It really is a chance of a lifetime to see so many beautiful places including PARIS!!!!!!! And learn so much more about yourself. The moral of my scattered story is don’t let the fear of not being able to live life in France as you do in the US scare you away from such an AWESOME experience!!!!

P.S. France sells Strawberry Juice and I have not been able to find it in the U.S. yet so if you have no other reason to go….go to try the Strawberry juice but bring some back for me!!!!!!!!!!

Student Voices: TREY

19 06 2010

Foreign Food Blog

When traveling abroad, I believe the best thing to do when it comes to food is to simply start with an open mind and be willing to try new things.  On my trip to France I ate at many different restaurants and I tried many news foods that I have never had before.  I was able to eat at a Chinese restaurant, Japanese Sushi restaurant, a Moroccan restaurant, a Lebanese Restaurant, a French version of a Mexican food restaurant, a delicious Greek restaurant in Paris, an Italian restaurant, and a few others.

Although reading French menus was hard, and ordering was also difficult, I never regretted anything that I tried.  Just as a suggestion, it helps to know at least enough French to be able to read what will be the main part of your meal, such as chicken, fish, beef, pork, etc. but other than that just be willing to try whatever you end up getting, because most likely it will turn out to be pretty good.

Two unique foods that especially stand out to me, that I would have never of thought that I would have enjoyed was escargot from the Greek restaurant in Paris (see picture), which turned out to be extremely delicious, and also I tried a few bites of some chicken liver with pomegranate sauce from the Lebanese restaurant.

Although I enjoyed everything that I tried at the restaurants, I did however learn my lesson about trying French cheese.  As a result of me being open to trying everything,  I bought a little bit of cheap cheese from a cheese store, with the recommendation from my French teacher, it turned out to be…less than desirable.  However, because I didn’t want to just throw it away after one bite, I eventually found the courage to try it again, at which time I was able to know for sure that I didn’t have a taste for true French cheese.  However, I wanted to make sure to try it again because similar to many other things there, such as the beer, wine, and music, at first it seems different and you may not like it but eventually your tastes will grow and you may develop a new found taste for European beer, French wine, or European dance music.  Although there were a few things that I might not have enjoyed that much, I don’t regret at least trying a little bit of everything I could, because what is the point of going somewhere new if you don’t try something new as well?

Student Voices: DAVID

19 06 2010

I wasn’t sure what I intended on writing when I started this, so I’m sorry if it’s a little disjointed, but here are some tips for a short stint in France that Grenoble has taught me…

1. No matter how much French you know, “Bonjour” in a cheery voice and “Merci” should be the two words you use most.  Thanking people a lot for whatever they do for you goes a long way.

2. If you’re trying to speak English to someone, if you talk in a silly-sounding French-ish accent, they will probably be able to understand you better.

3. Baguettes cost anywhere from 50 to 90 cents.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS.  About half of my meals in France consisted of bread and cheese.  Sometimes, there was olive oil and/or some sort of meat involved, but it was rarely in sandwich form.

4. You may or may not like American wine, but you will never actually know if you like wine or not unless you try some while you’re in France.  There a lot of it, it comes in many different varieties and it’s cheap. (NOTE FROM NASCO: Cheaper than Coca-cola!) Try it and see what you like.

5. Don’t overestimate the value of having a plan. I stumbled into just as many cool places as I meant to go, no matter what city I was in.  This includes Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva (from which we got some great pictures of the city)

and some cool old building in Paris (the name of which escapes me at this moment).

Whatever the case, now that I’m back in the States and I’ve had some time to wind down, I definitely regard this as one of my best choices of my college career.  Being over there, I didn’t even realize how much my picture of the world was expanded just by leaving the US, and by how long my concept of “old” was redefined when I saw all that I did.

Something I observed about Europe:  if you wander for about 5 minutes, you will run into some old, beautiful church/building/monument/natural phenomenon.  If you wander from that point for another 5 minutes or so, you will see another old, beautiful something-or-another.  It’s like the whole continent is designed to be a network of stuff that makes your jaw drop.  The Louvre is a condensed example of this.  I went with a couple of friends on our weekend in Paris, and slowly walking down one hallway of one floor just glancing at what was in front of us took almost two hours.  The fact that so many priceless works of ancient art were all in just that one hallway blew my mind.  Here’s a small sample:

And keep in mind: this was one hallway on one floor of one section.

Because this program was so focused, my European experience wasn’t as broad as others’ have been, but I can say one thing for sure.  If you’re in Europe, spend at least 4 days in Paris so you can see (and appreciate) as much as you can.  Favorite places in Paris:

1.  Le Basilique du Sacre Coeur (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart)

It’s a huge church on a hill that overlooks Paris.  The stone that it’s made of pushes calcite (think chalk) to the surface so it always stays white.

2. The Louvre

Like I said before, everything about it is astonishing.  You could spend a week in there and still not see everything.

3. The Arc du Triumph

See those ants up there?  Those are people.  Yup, that’s how big it is.

So there are some tips/a little advice that have no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.  Hope this helps you in your study abroad experience!